The NEW family tree
Welcome to the NEW family tree web page.
This will be as exciting as watching paint dry for most of you, but I'll try and keep it interesting, if at all possible.
If you have any comments about the site, please e-mail me. David New
Once upon a time......sorry wrong story! A few years ago I sat down and thought it would be interesting to find out something about my family, as I really had only a very limited knowledge about them. I thought it would simply be a case of asking a few people and hey presto ....A family tree!!
Unfortunately it didn't seem to work out that way at all. Why, oh why did I start?
Anyway this is what happened...... I first sat down with the various members of my family and wrote down everything that was known about my grandparents and great-grandparents. This took approximately 3 minutes!! As it turned out I had an extremely elusive family. Most of them appeared to have either "done a runner" at some stage or were frightened of dusting off the old skeletons in the cupboard. After extensive checking and re-checking I was in a position to add at least two family members to the sheet of A3 paper which I was planning to use.
My Mother and Father!!
I then wrote down what was known from various people:-
1) My Paternal Great-Grandfather was very well off and was a chandler in Plymouth after he left the navy?
2) He had been to the Boer War and then on to the Boxer rebellion in China?
3) One of my Naval ancestors had been lost when torpedoed in the Mediterranean?
4) My Grandfather had gone off years ago and was possibly somewhere in London?
I'll come back to these later after I explain a little of the family origins and some of the resultant problems.
My father was in the Navy and therefore travelled around somewhat, meeting and marrying my mother in Cape Town - South Africa.
Steven - Born in Londonderry.
David (me!) - Born in Plymouth.
Jacky - Born in Famagusta.
Jonathan - Born in Plymouth.
(My mothers family were originally of Greek origin and this led us off on another quest which has been as difficult as anything from the epics. That trail leads back to a small island off the Greek mainland called Ithika. The possible birthplace of Odysseus!)
Anyway, to continue....we thought we would start by researching the Boer war and the Boxer rebellion. This led to us reading dozens of books about these subjects and totally losing the thread of our investigations. The Boer war led back to the Zulu war and then back to the beginning of the colonisation of South Africa. This led to books about almost the complete history of the African continent.. Egypt, Senegal, Ethiopia, Diamond and gold finds, The slave trade, Lost cities, etc,etc,etc. We were drowning in little tributaries and getting nowhere on the family tree.
The easiest thing to do, or so we thought was to trot down to the Public records Office and get all the info. Yeah Right! Unknown to us at this time was that you only searched through the very large index books and then applied for Birth, Marriage or death certificates from the references found in them. After a couple of false starts we began to find the correct documents, e.g. we eventually tracked down the marriage certificate of my Paternal grandmother to her first husband. Great rejoicing!! This seemed to fit with our information and we also were able to find references in a newspaper about his death - a week later!! Apparently, rather than the more exciting story of the "Torpedo in the Med", it was a far more mundane (and sad) collision with a freight ship off Portland Bill, in thick fog. All hands were lost and the crew joined the statistics of this particularly wasteful conflict.
We still have in our possession the medals, plaque and scroll awarded to him and have spent a lot of time trying to track down his family to see if they would like to have them. Our own link to him is obviously pretty tenuous and the awards had been rescued from my grandmothers dustbin at one stage. (She had not been particularly happy with receiving them in exchange for her husband). My grandmother remarried a few years later and started the line we are actually trying to follow now.
Our grandmother used to sometimes bring out her family photographs and let us kids look through them all, probably just to keep us quiet! She had a medium sized suitcase and various boxes and tins full, as her family had been Naval and kept in touch mainly through letters and photos. The sad thing is that on her death a member of the family (who will remain nameless here) decided to throw them all out and we lost an irreplaceable collection of family history. We have very luckily been able to fill in some of the gaps from another family member, who has an interest in family history. (To be continued) We started noting down the current family details on large sheets of paper using small pink and blue stickers to make it a little easier to follow. This worked very well for a period although it was difficult to amend when we found we'd forgotten someone!! We have since started using a Shareware programme which was far better and easier to use - we were soon up to a couple of hundred names. We had decided that we were not only interested in names and dates, but would also fill in as much detail as possible about occupations, places and family facts as possible. We found that although this was much slower, it made the whole project far more interesting. One of the main areas of difficulty was that the whole family has split-up and now covers the four corners of the world. Cousins had grown up and married and had their own children and we still thought of them as little kids! (We'll get around to getting all of their details some day). Moving backwards on our search was the main objective initially and despite various trips to London we have so far not been able to find the links we would have expected. eg. No death certificate for one relative and no birth certificate for another etc. etc. It can become quite galling, but still interesting as we sit and discuss possible reasons for the missing documents. Went abroad/Changed name/Still alive?/Abducted by aliens/Left by aliens!/Wrong name recorded/or whatever.
Link to the New family home page:-